Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

China toxic egg scandal spreads

Eggs on sale in China
Despite a national campaign, lapses in food safety are continuing

Three more Chinese brands of chicken's eggs have been found to contain high levels of the chemical melamine.

Tests in Hong Kong first revealed dangerously high levels of the substance in eggs from a mainland supplier earlier this week.

Officials were reportedly aware of the contamination a month earlier.

The growing scandal follows the discovery of melamine in Chinese milk, which has killed four children, and triggered product recalls across Asia.

Like the milk scandal before it, the contamination of China's egg supply appears to be far more widespread than first realised.

And as before, it seems that local officials on the mainland attempted to cover up news of the contamination, says the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing.

Media ban

A newspaper in Beijing reports that the sanitation department of Liaoning province, in the north-east, began investigating a local egg producer at the beginning of October.

It then ordered a ban on any media interviews.

Local officials say melamine was illegally mixed into chicken feed to make eggs look richer in protein than they were, but central authorities have not commented.

Despite a nationwide campaign to raise food safety standards and reassure consumers, the mainland's broken down food safety inspectorate is still failing to catch and report lapses in standards when they happen, our correspondent says.

Hong Kong is stepping up its tests of mainland Chinese food products, and is asking China's help to trace the source of melamine contamination in eggs.

Testing of animal feed, chicken meat and eggs will also be introduced.

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CNN China's milk scare spreads globally - 1 hr ago
Straits Times Melamine in 5 more items - 1 hr ago
Guardian Unlimited13,000 babies in hospital from China's tainted milk - 1 hr ago
NBC 10 At Least 12 Countries Ban Chinese Dairy - 3 hrs ago
San Francisco Chronicle The reach of China's tainted milk scandal - 3 hrs ago
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